A man who police say tried to sexually assault a woman in front of her three young children in Queens this past weekend was arraigned Friday evening.
Pedro Vargas, 48, faces charges of assault, endangering the welfare of a child and operating a vehicle without a proper license.
He was arrested around 10:30 p.m. Thursday near his home.
Investigators say the Yonkers man posed as a cab driver when he picked up the 26-year-old victim and her children, ages 1, 3, and 5, in Manhattan early Sunday morning.
The woman asked to be taken to Elmhurst, where police say Vargas pulled into the parking lot of a homeless shelter and tried to attack her.
While she tried to escape, police say he elbowed the 5-year-old in the head and tossed the 3-year-old from the car.
The children were taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries.
Vargas' lawyer, Howard Greenberg, said the victim is to blame, saying the encounter happened when she refused to pay him.
"He just wanted to get rid of her and them. So might there have been somewhat of overreaction, but there's no injuries to the children," Greenberg said. "So what's the crime? What's the crime? Getting rid of people who turn your stomach after they stiff you on the fee? This was her idea. She endangered her children, not him."
The state corrections department says Vargas was on community supervision after serving 18 years of a 15 years to life sentence for robbery and kidnapping.
Vargas is due back in court on September 12.